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This NYC Time Warner HDTV Person Needs Help Please

britbiker
08-07-2006, 10:50 AM
Hello fellas! O.k. so since my days in the Army when we could get great audio overseas, I've been a wannabee audiophile. So yesterday I received my Sharp Aquos LC 32D40U (August 7th). I have always run my T.V.'s through my stereo system - so of course I want to do that again with my Aquos, but the receiver and dvd player I have now kinda suck - it's a Sony home theater system from four years ago and has no DVI or HDMI outlets. Let me not get to ahead of myself...

I have the TIME WARNER SA 8300 Box, I picked it up in early August. I am paying the extra $8.95 per month to get around 15 HD channels. Now here are a couple of comments and questions...

1. So since my Aquos is *widescreen*, I was sad to see that when I view a channel that is *not* being broadcast in HD, I have four options (sidebars, zoom, ssttreettcchh). So with my 32" T.V. - even when I'm on an HD channel (700-715) - when a *commercial* comes on - the T.V. goes back to 4:3 and I get sidebars and then when the HD show is on it's back to 16:9 (fullscreen HD). I guess I was kinda bummed to see that normal channels have to be "stretched" "zoomed" or given "sidebars" - so that means the majority of my T.V. viewing now looks "pulled" *if* I want the picture to cover the entire widescreen. Unless I am missing something, that's kind of a bummer with buying a brand new *widescreen* HDTV.

2. Now I've read so much about "even the non-HD channels come in better on my HDTV." Really? I fiddled with all the: contrast, color, etc., and I don't find the picture to be *that* much better than my old Sony 32" Wega Trinitron I just got rid of. In fact, read above, since the majority of the chanels are *not* broadcast in HDTV - I can either have a "pulled" screen so that the picture covers the entire screen or I can have sidebars (and now it's not a 32" screen anymore).

3. I *am* using an HDMI cable (from my cablebox to my T.V.) and on HD channels, for the price you pay for the cables, it's not all that. In fact, I'm still waiting (and worried I'm doing something wrong) to see the crystal clear underwater scenes or something like I saw in the Best Buy store (and no, I wasn't looking at Plasma's, I was looking at LCD's).

4. I am not really a fan of Home Theater kits. Rather, I just like a good receiver and four floor standing speakers for my T.V./DVD system. BUT! My old receiver and DVD have no HDMI/DVI connectors - so I just use composite cables right? (To run from the T.V./DVD to the receiver.) I mean correct me if I'm wrong, if I don't have a receiver or DVD player that has either a DVI or HDMI connector in the back - then I *must* use the composite cables right?

When I set up my four floor standing speakers the sound is incredible from the T.V. and DVD. So can someone tell my why I should consider an "home theater system" and not just a regular sound system?

5. I am so thankful that forums like this exist. I mean we are all obviously people who love T.V.'s/Stereo systems and I am having a little bit of trouble. I can only imagine what it must be like for those who find setting up an HDTV system difficult (or at least not fun like I do).

Thank you in advance for your comments and help. As I become more educated about this whole thing (especially for Time Warner customers in Brooklyn). I'll let you know what I discover.

suzbwise
09-02-2006, 02:24 AM
Hello, britbiker...

I have a similar situation as you do - only I bought a 37" HP and a 26" Sharp Aquos... (I'm still learning, so all you experts out there - go easy on me and please make corrections, if needed. I just spent some time with tech support and would like to pass along the insights. Thanks!)

First, I'll address your items:
1. Widescreen/sidebars/stretch - Your image is only as good as the one being sent. So, for non-HD channels (plus commercials, etc) you are receiving 'SD' (standard definition). So the new screen can either show it as the 'original' size (thus, the sidebars), or it can artificially change it (stretch, zoom.) I agree - I wanted *everything* to look great - well, maybe someday... Also, they told me that not *all* the programs on the HD channels are really HD (even with the logo.) So keep checking - you might find that nice underwater scene DOES look great on your new set, when they broadcast one...!

2. "non-HD will come in better on an HD tv" - I know, I was told the same thing! Right now, I have a service call pending with the cable company because they assure me this is true. We'll see. Right now it looks pretty sad. One tech support person said that my cable is still analog and so the 'box' has to convert it. When they start sending digital, the digital tv will look *much* better. We'll see! (I'll let you know what happens on Tuesday.)

3. HDMI cable - I know, I noticed the same clear images at Best Buy. They told me they have an in-house system at 720 (DVD quality) but it looks so good because a) it's digital and b) the tvs can use progressive scan. (This is where I learned a lot today! First, I'll tell you about the HDMI cable.) On the one hand, the cable is convenient because it carries the audio as well as the video - it's easy, you're done. But I also learned that it only matters when your tv's native resolution is 1080+. This usually means the larger sets (like 50"+), although I've seen some hi-res ones with smaller dimensions. I believe your set (and mine, as well) are 1366 x 728 so the component cables are fine. (You'll then have to use the audio cables, too.) The cable company said to be sure to use *their* cables that came with the box, so I did. (They were nicer than the ones I had, anyway.)

On a related issue, we also bought an "up-conversion" DVD player - it's supposed to make it near HD quality (greater than 720). It does look nice on the screen, but I'm still disappointed. I'm using an HDMI cable with that - we'll be experienting with the component cables, as well. I might return the new DVD player and/or the HDMI cable and save a bunch of money!

On another related issue, they explained the "1366 x 728" ('720') and "1920 x 1080" (1080) and the 'p' and 'i' (and also the '480')... You need to pay attention to the resolution of the tv - the higher the better. (But as the screens get larger, the same resolution will just be distributed over a larger area - many times resulting in lesser image quality, unless you get farther away.) Anyway, 480 is 'regular' (SD) tv - it looks decent on a good CRT. 720 is much better (DVD quality) and then 1080 is the best (for now?) The other issue is the 'p' and 'i'. The 'i' is for interlaced - only every other horizontal line is displayed at a time. It looks pretty good, since more lines are being displayed (than 480 - and they are very tiny - our eyes can't see the lines, just overall quality.) Then the 'p' is for progressive scan. That means that even *more* lines are displayed (although not all lines at once.)

Now the cable company said to set the box to find *all* the possible resolutions they offer. On mine, it's 1080i, 720p, and 480i std, 480p std, 480i widescreen, 480p widescreen. Then, set the box to 'pass through' - it will then select the resolution based on the channel. Since our tvs use progressive scan, we can forget the 'i' settings - they look the worst. After experimenting, my larger tv looks best on HD with 720p - I get more lines at a time than 1/2 of 1080 at a time (1080'i')... Does that makes sense to you? Perhaps it varies by tv? I don't know. The smaller tv looks best in HD at 1080i. AND THEN I found the box can 'up-convert' so I use that instead of 'pass through'. Now looks even better!

Finally,
4. Home theater vs floor speakers - I agree with you! We have tried several home theater options - the sound from floor speakers is *much* better. On the other hand, our friends bought a Niro Surround Sound (http://www.niro1.com/us/) - now that's cool! Everything is set up close to the tv - no wires running across the room. Our friends have it set up in a great room, so they have a higher-end system - they all work great - the kind of sound that goes right through you, even at lower volumes. We will definitely buy a Niro system...

5. I, too, am thankful for the people who run this forum - and of course the contributors. I hope everything I wrote is correct - I'm just passing along the info I collected recently.

If I can be of further help, email me at [email protected] I don't check that everyday, so be patient! Thanks again -

- Suzanne.

mfabien
09-02-2006, 03:56 AM
I think you are addressing too many issues in one post. Suggest you break it down and use the different appropriate Forums for each topic.

Each subject requires attention and readers, posters and yourself will have a better understanding if you make it piecemeal.